Heading south in the fall and winter

Cowichan residents are chasing fun in the sun. -
Cowichan residents are chasing fun in the sun.
— image credit:

Desperately seeking sun and fun.

When the amount of daylight hours dwindles at home, the travel patterns of valley seniors are rather predictable in the late fall and winter months. Like birds in a flock, they head south.

"We do a lot of the all-inclusive types of packages to Mexico, Cuba and the sun destinations,'' said Kathy MacLellan, the manager of Whittome's Travel in Duncan.

"It changes seasonally, too,'' she added. issues a twice-yearly review of international hotel room price trends called the Hotel Price Index. It tracks the prices paid per room by customers at about 140,000 properties within the network to major destinations around the world.

The top international destinations for Canadians in the earlier part of the year were: 1. New York City, 2. Las Vegas, 3. Orlando, 4. Chicago, 5. Seattle.

But with a change in the weather comes a big chance on the priority list. Sight-seeing gives way to sun-seeking.

We tailored the list for the present in the valley, with help from Whittome's, and All About Travel and Cruise Centre.

MacLellan confirmed the list changes seasonally but not too much from year-to-year.

In the winter, she puts the all-inclusive packages of Mexico and the Caribbean destinations of Cuba, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic at the top of the list.

"Caribbean cruises are also very popular,'' noted MacLellan.

"In the summer, we see a shift to more European destinations — Britain, Germany, France, Italy. Alaska cruises are also very big in the summer.''

All About Travel and Cruise Centre has a few different destinations thrown into the mix.

Manager Lisa Smith cites Puerto Vallarta and Cancun, Mexico as having the largest demand followed by Anaheim because of the proximity to Disneyland, Cuba, Las Vegas and Hawaii.

"It's busy,'' said Smith. "People just want to get away.

"Now that the weather's changed, people just want to travel. We do a lot of sun destinations and cruises.

"Once the kids go back to school, people start focusing.''

It's a wider range of ages today taking advantages of opportunities to travel at different times.

"A lot of people are retiring early,'' said Smith. "They've got the bit of extra money.''

If they can afford to travel, they're definitely doing it, said Smith.'s list of domestic travel for Canadians puts Toronto at the top followed by Montreal, Vancouver, Edmonton and Ottawa.

Canadian destinations don't vary too much between seasons. The weather isn't really great anywhere across the country in the winter and obviously hit-and-miss everywhere but often quite decent during the summer, that doesn't really affect reasons for travel.

"Most of the business we do within Canada is air only, with the top destinations probably being Toronto, Calgary, Halifax, Ottawa, Kelowna,'' pointed out MacLellan.

"People are normally just buying an airfare to visit family or friends or travelling on business. We may occasionally book hotels for them, but not often do we book tours within Canada.''

All About's top five for Canada includes: Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto and Ottawa.

"We do a lot within Canada,'' said Smith.


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